Stossel and Prop 19

This is the content of a letter I just wrote to John Stossel at Fox Business News. Let’s see if I get a response. I’ll bet I don’t.

I watched the segment Why Legalization of Pot Failed in California when it aired. My wife had to make me turn it off. It started playing in the background just now, and I found myself yelling at the screen again “shut up you #@$%^&!” I despise Bill O’Reilly. He’s a religious zealot that is only slightly more in touch with reality than Glenn Beck, which makes him that much more of a problem, frankly.

Why did you air this segment and his outright lies about Marijuana legalization without challenging him on them? If you really want to know why the proposition failed, try watching the video The Hidden Victory of “Proposition 19” on Youtube. Contact these people, get their facts and set the record straight. I followed you to FOX because I respect your integrity. You’re being at FOX and not having to argue with ABC’s management about libertarian ideas has made you lax, in my opinion. Either that, or you are under constraints not to talk back to FOX’s big baby, Bill O’Reilly.

This is the video.

misesmediaThe Hidden Victory of “Proposition 19” | Mark Thornton – Nov 10, 2010

Those who profit from the current system (cops, pharmaceutical growers, the governments of several nations) lined up against this measure. It was very clear to anyone paying attention what the real motivation against 19 was.

The Health care Problem Part 2

A friend of a friend responded to my rant on health care the other day, taking me to task for not being willing to hand over 1/5th of the US economy to the government and allowing those wonderful bureaucrats in Washington to finish the job they started when they first screwed up US health care by granting tax subsidies to employers who offered health insurance, way back in the 50’s. I don’t know, perhaps we should question the veracity of all the promises given by those saintly authors of such lovely things as HMO and PPO regulations (and insurance regulation in general) and all those other constraints put on health care providers as well; they were, after all, supposed to fix the health care problem, rather than make it worse.

Maybe, just maybe, we should probe a little deeper into this problem of health care, and see where the problem originates.

Reading the objections to my rant, I have to say that the problem with health care appears to originate in the opinions of average citizens. I say this because the points that are being made are generally in error; as anything beyond basic research on the ‘net will show. And yet this isn’t the first time I’ve seen these points made, which is why I’m going to take the time to rebut them.

Part of the problem with health care facts is, there aren’t a lot of easily accessible facts to go by. But I will do my best to answer the 6 points brought up by my detractor, and then perhaps pose a few questions of my own.

So here goes:

1) If our system is the best, why does a child born in IRAQ have a better chance of reaching age one than a child born in this country?

Because that isn’t the real statistic: the Wiki List of Countries by Infant Mortality Rate clearly shows that Iraq (27 / 81.5) has a much higher rate than the United States (163 / 6.3). The IMR is higher in the US than in Canada (173 / 4.8) and the other socialized systems, but it’s not that statistically significant; although the variation in rates probably relates to factors within the health care system.

2) If our system is the best, why do we have the highest percentage of our citizens on prescription drugs which treat the symptoms but not the cause?

That sounds like it comes from a “Why the US health care system sucks” brochure. There isn’t any realistic way of measuring prescription drug rates as described. I daresay that if there was, it would be higher in countries where health care is a ‘free’ service, rather than in the US where the user has to pay. There is also a wide array of methods for categorizing what is a prescription (given by a doctor after a visit) and what is simply continued treatment of the same ailment. In the US, a prescription is required for all controlled drugs, whereas in the UK if you’ve been prescribed something once, it continues to be available to you as long as your are treating the same ailment.

I’d rather have a drug that treats a symptom rather than a cause, than to go without treatment for both symptoms and cause and just be allowed to suffer; which is what happens in many countries where medical care is rationed by the state.

3) If our system is the best, why do we rank below so many countries in general health?

Again, we don’t. We rank below much of Europe (and of course, saintly Canada) and not much else. There’s a reason for this (like the IMR statistic) it’s called reallocation of service. There is a refocusing of service towards basic health functions and away from more specialized health services in the socialized systems. They can do this because the doctors work for the state, and the number of specialists is limited by state mandate.

Is this a good thing? Forcing someone to act against his own judgment is never a good thing, from where I’m sitting.

4) If our system is the best, why do most countries people live longer than we do?

Another false statistic. According to the List of Countries by Life Expectancy the US is 45th on the list. Not exactly a stellar showing, but definitely above the halfway mark; and above places like Denmark (the happiest place on earth) Ireland and Cuba (so highly touted in Sicko) We are down the list from the socialized countries of Europe (and, of course, Canada) but they are topped by some other countries that you wouldn’t think had long life expectancies, like Japan.

This is also not the defining characteristic of good medicine; it has more to do with genes and climate than it does with free medical service.

5) If our system is the best, why is the rest of the free world on another system?

Because the rest of the free world isn’t as free as the name implies. Do I have to use the same argument your mother used when you were five?

If Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you want to jump off too?

It’s a bad idea to give government that much control over our lives; and the lack luster performance of the socialized systems (which I did notice he didn’t bother to try and refute) proves the skeptics right; that rationing of available services, re-allocation of assets (doctors and nurses) from one specialty to another, and denial of service though long wait times (about 34% of Canadians complain of this) and limited areas of availability (I pointed this out in Sick(o) in America) does occur, this is the nature of single-payer managed socialized systems.

And those who can afford to come here (the US) do come here to get treatment (including Michael Moore, as Stossel pointed out) at private institutions. If the rest of the free world is better, why would that ever happen?

6) If you are POSITIVE this is the best system, come down with a long term issue and see how well you are treated when your health provider decides you are no longer a viable “asset”.

I have a long term issue. No health insurance, no job; but I do have a clear conscience. I’ve never asked someone else to sacrifice themselves for my benefit; I’ve never taken out of the pot more than what I put into it. Which is what any socialized system (all of which should be ended; school, Social Security, whatever) does; it allows the socialist maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” to play out. Nowhere is this more clear than in the field of medicine. We can’t abide the idea of rich doctors and fat cat pharmaceutical companies taking more than their fair share. Therefore we will take these men of ability, and sacrifice them to the greater good, the need of the many. And since we needy can’t be bothered to pay anything for their services, we’ll draft the wealthy amongst us to pay even more taxes (and add more sacrifices to the pile) so that we can have free health care. No more do we have to worry about engaging in risky behavior…

like the objector who offered the list above. He received ‘free’ treatment for a motorcycle injury. An injury which probably could have been avoided had he chosen an alternate form of transportation. Perhaps Canada should outlaw motorcycles, it might save them a few tax dollars. I know that the US gov’t will do far more than that. Say hello to mandated diet plans and compulsory risk assessment surveys. No more cheese burgers for you, and no bungee jumping or snowboarding either. Ah, what fun it will be living in the land of the free, and the home of the federally insured.

…the all-caring nanny state will be there to pick up the tab for all those years of smoking, all those trips to Burgerhaven; whatever your poison of choice is.

Except there’s a fly in this ointment. It’s not sustainable. Like the Ponzi scheme of Social Security, There’s not enough money to pay out all the eventual claims for health care. So the state will simply decide who will get health care and who won’t, with rationing. And those without political connection will do without health care in the same way that those without money do without it now. Perhaps even more so, since the state can compel it’s servants (the doctors) not to provide service to whomever they deem unfit, even if that service is for free.

This is already happening with medicare, with doctors and patients being forbidden to come to a mutual agreement concerning services that the state has determined are not necessary. It’s happening in Canada, where citizens have been brought up on charges for trying to pay for services, and clinics have been shut down for attempting to sell services outside of the socialized system.

Obviously, Canada’s health care system is not the best; none of the metrics that can be used to measure it come to that conclusion. The US system is the best, when it comes to quality of treatment for certain illnesses; and falls on it’s face when it comes to efficiency and cost; and efficiency and cost will not be positively addressed by simply handing the system over to government. Look at the efficiency of the DMV if you doubt that.

The solution to the health care problem is educating the average citizen. It’s robbing your insurance company. It’s taking control of your health care expenditures and asking the providers hard questions. Do I really need this test? What is this going to cost? Until we know what we are paying for services, we’re never going to get a handle on the real problem, the cost of health care. And that cost will either be paid now, in person; or later, by some state official who’ll make your health care decisions for you.

Which option sounds better to you?

Editor’s note, 2019. To paraphrase my smartassed younger self, I’ll take socialized medicine for $100, Alex. The problem of healthcare in America today is that it is so much more complex and convoluted than anyone understands, even the people who work in the field or study it from outside. However, there is no way that anyone poorer than Bill Gates can pay for every cent of the healthcare they require, funding everything required to provide even the simplest of medical interventions. Much less get the intervention delivered to the sufferer before the illness kills them. That is reality, not illusion.

Ron Paul Unplugged

Two of my favorite people, one interviewing the other. John Stossel did a series of web interviews with Ron Paul, all of them quite interesting. Here’s an excerpt of the intro:

Despite relatively low poll numbers, Paul has had a big influence on the presidential campaign. That’s in part because he’s raised a ton of money, and in part because of the passionate following he has on the Web. It’s one reason we’re posting my interview with Paul only on the Internet, where the debate about Paul is very active. In fact, he’s the most Googled presidential candidate.

read more | digg story

You can go on to read Stossel’s notes on the interviews, or watch them on the site. You can also watch them here.

Sick(o) in America

John Stossel picks up the gauntlet that Michael Moore threw down, and slaps him silly with it; in less time than it takes to watch the overrated ‘documentary’ Sicko. Here’s a quote from the online article,

There are many problems with health insurance, but that doesn’t mean we should put the government in control. If it’s decided that health care should be paid for with tax dollars, then it’s up to the government to decide how that money should be spent. There’s only so much money to go around, so the inevitable result is rationing.

It’s just the law of supply and demand. Lowering prices increases demand. Lowering the price to nothing pushes demand through the roof. Author P.J. O’Rourke said it best: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

When health care is free, governments deal with all that increased demand by limiting what’s available.

20/20 – StosselAmerican Health Care in Critical Condition

I have watched both Sicko and Stossel’s 20/20 special. While the interviews with the individuals struggling with the problems of the healthcare system were emotionally compelling in Sicko; as usual, the emotional argument is used to blind the viewer to the real culprit in the problem.

Sick in America, John Stossel’s response to Sicko, lacks none of the passion that Micheal Moore pours into his film, and yet deals in clear truths and verifiable facts. He discovers the real culprit behind the healthcare crisis. The real culprit is government.

The Canadians lamenting the lack of insurance coverage in the US is a classic example of using emotion to obscure the real problem. Why doesn’t the Canadian socialized system pay for services rendered in the US? Or any other country? If it was truly free service for their citizens, it would be free wherever the need arose. This is true of all the socialized healthcare systems across the world. There is no charge to the end user, provided he goes to a funded provider; and that’s the catch. The government pays for the service through taxes, and rations the healthcare that is available based on the funds that are provided.

This is also why drugs are cheaper in other countries. Prices are artificially lowered through agreements with those countries single payer systems. This should explain why the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to you to import Canadian drugs into the US. At some point they will simply stop providing the medication at reduced prices, since they can no longer profit from it’s production. Profit is why anyone engages in business in the first place, and healthcare is a business.

The one thing Moore got correct in Sicko was the scathing criticism of the current health insurance system. Once again, he missed the real culprit. Government regulation has created the current health insurance system. HMO, PPO, etc. Just more three letter acronyms for government created systems. If you agree to be covered by an HMO, then they, like the government in other countries, tell you who can treat you and for what.

I love the fact that he spent so much time in Europe. What a beacon of economic health France and the other European economies are. I also love the way he never addresses how much they pay in taxes for the lavish services provided. Sadly, it’s not that much more than we do here in the US for the lack of services that we have. That doesn’t mean we should pay more for better service. Logic should dictate that we demand to pay less, and provide our own ‘safety net’.

Let’s make something clear here; we are not Kaiser Permanente (Moore’s whipping boy of choice) In fact, the healthcare industry itself is not Kaiser Permanente. Based on the criminal behavior documented concerning Kaiser Permanente, I would think there would be charges filed somewhere against them. But then, their behavior is regulated and endorsed by the government. The same government that Moore thinks we should hand over the rest of healthcare to.

Only a dedicated socialist, like Micheal Moore, would consider it an indictment that we provide healthcare to prisoners, people held against their will (and as far as Gitmo detainees are concerned, held without charges) prisoners have no ability to provide for themselves, while citizens of the US do without healthcare; and, of course, the Cuban government bent over backward at Moore’s request to treat his boatload of sick people. What a media coup that is. Cuba heals the sick overlooked by America’s evil capitalist system. Especially the neglected Ground Zero workers.

My sister spent several years at Ground Zero, helping with the clean up effort. She, along with thousands of others still suffer from the after effects of being exposed to the air around Ground Zero. Health problems that the government still denies has anything to do with working at Ground Zero. The government has lead the way towards disenfranchising those heroes of Ground Zero. The insurance companies are simply following the government’s lead, just like they always have.

Except that the system might be evil, but it most certainly isn’t capitalist. All of the government managed systems are no different from the fascist corporatism of Il Duce‘s Italy; just another variant of socialism. Yes, the system currently in place is already a compromise. See how well it’s working? Don’t you want more of the same?

I’d like to speak for a significant portion of America’s uninsured. We don’t want universal health care. Some of us are uninsured by choice. The cost of insurance outweighs the benefit provided by insurance. (The only way the cost is justifiable is if a family member has some long term expensive-to-treat disease, and then the insurance company disallows coverage based on some obscure clause in the policy. I have seen this happen before) Forcing us to contribute to a universal system through a greater tax burden will simply drive us further into poverty. We want the freedom to choose what we want insured, and to get the same tax benefits as any other insurance provider. We want to negotiate prices directly with our doctors and hospitals, and we want the choice to remain uninsured if we deem it necessary.

Let charity provide the ‘free’ services. Only charity really can. All other arrangements involve the use of force on one or another of various groups. This is unacceptable to those of us who believe force should not be involved in normal social relationships.

It’s worth mentioning that I followed the sentiment of Michael Moore in his film, and refused to pay for the privilege of viewing his film, just as he does not wish to pay for the privilege of getting healthcare service. Instead I found an alternative source for the material. Anybody with access to a torrent program may do the same. I don’t reward thieves for promoting government as their method of choice.

John Stossel’s special has been broken into segments and is available on YouTube. Let him know you support his views by contacting him at ABC. There’s also a blog entry over at Downsize DC on the subject of the healthcare system, as well as an entire section of the website over at CATO.

CATO Weekly Video on the subject of “Sicko”

There really is no excuse to be uninformed on the subject.

Editor’s note, 2019. Hard to believe that the guy who wrote this was applying for disability while he was typing it. Most of my early writings on the subject of government programs have proven to be misguided at best, hypocritical at worst. Hypocritical, like the above post. Another one of those posts that I’d rather hit the delete button on than write an apology for. Oh well. The Bowl of Crow covers this too.

I still don’t think much of Michael Moore or his documentaries. It just so happens that his opponents are even more jaded and hypocritical than he is. Just watch anything by Stossel since joining FOX news and you will see just how dishonest his presentations have become. Possibly always were.

To use the phrase socialized medicine is to repeat oneself needlessly. All medicine contains costs borne by the public at large. All of it. It is a classic case of an economic externality, which is why businesses toss the cost of healthcare around like a hot potato. No one wants to foot the bill, therefore everyone must be forced to foot the bill. How that cost is paid equitably, while providing access to limited facilities equitably? How can these costs and benefits be spread across the world, granting every living person access? Those are the really hard and important questions. Questions that I am finally fully cognizant of lacking the knowledge and expertise to solve. It’s about fucking time, if I do say so myself.